The Ledes

Friday, March 6, 2015.

New York Times: "The Labor Department reported on Friday that employers added 295,000 workers to their payrolls in February and that unemployment fell to 5.5 percent. The report was a big improvement from January’s...."

New York Times: "A 23-year-old British man has been arrested over a cyberattack in which data was stolen from the United States Department of Defense, the police said on Friday. The man was detained Wednesday morning by detectives from the National Crime Agency of Britain on suspicion of offenses linked to a hacking that took place in June...."

USA Today: Actor "Harrison Ford was injured Thursday afternoon when his vintage single-engine airplane crashed on a golf course shortly after taking off from Santa Monica Airport."

Detroit News: "A federal judge was shot outside his west side home Thursday night in what police believe was an attempted robbery or home invasion.U.S. District Judge Terrence G. Berg was shot in the leg about 9:10 p.m. outside his home on the west side of Detroit...."

New York Times: "Liberia’s last Ebola patient was discharged on Thursday after a ceremony in the capital, Monrovia, bringing to zero the number of known cases in the country and marking a milestone in West Africa’s battle against the disease.... The disease had flared up recently in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea, the two other countries hardest hit by it."

Guardian: " A court order from the US army court of criminal appeals instructs the military to refer to [Chelsea Manning] in all future official correspondence either using the gender neutral 'Private First Class Manning' or employing the feminine pronoun."

The Wires

The Ledes

Thursday, March 5, 2015.

New York Times: "Cardinal Edward M. Egan, a stern defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who presided over the Archdiocese of New York for nine years in an era of troubled finances, changing demographics and a priesthood of dwindling, aging ranks shaken by sexual-abuse scandals, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 82."

NBC News: "The Supreme Court has set April 28 as the date for historic arguments on gay marriage."

AP: "On the first day of testimony Wednesday in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose lawyer admitted he committed the crime, three women who suffered severe injuries described their memories of the blasts, their wounds and the terror they felt."

NBC News: "'We are very close [to reaching a nuclear agreement] if the political decision can be made to get to yes, as President Obama said,' [Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif] said. The minister spoke a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared before the U.S. Congress, warning against a deal, which he said 'paves Iran's path to the bomb.'"

Public Service Announcement

The Hill: "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden on Sunday [Feb. 1] warned that the U.S. could see a 'large outbreak' of measles.... There are at least 102 reported cases in 14 states, according to the CDC. Frieden said that the U.S. is 'likely to see more cases.'... The said the best way to prevent the spread of measles was vaccination.Frieden said despite the U.S.'s 92 percent vaccination rate, there is growing evidence more parents are not vaccinating their children."

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

White House Live Video
March 6

12:45 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks to the Human Rights Campaign convention (audio only)

1:30 pm ET: Swearing-in of Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy

2:15 pm ET: President Obama participates in a town hall event at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C.

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Way Cheaper Wi-Fi? Will Oremus of Slate: "Google isn’t talking details yet, but ...what it has in mind, according to industry rumors and sources, is something like what FreedomPop and Republic Wireless are already offering: a 'Wi-Fi first' service that could deliver adequate, if slightly spotty, coverage at a fraction of the prevailing cost. And that coverage is likely to get much better over time."

Woodwording Plagiarism?? Washington Post: "There’s no doubt that the first season finale of Ellen DeGeneres’s reality competition show was bizarre. But the questions it raises are even stranger, along with the weird and frustrating way the network chose to handle a controversial situation."

Adam Goodheart of the Atlantic reviews a book by historian Eric Foner that sheds new light on the Underground Railway that helped Southern black Americans escapes slavery, even though the participants were violating federal law -- openly, too: "It is a little-known historical irony that right up until the eve of Southern secession in 1860, states’ rights were invoked as often by Northern abolitionists as by Southern slaveholders."

CW: How I'll Spend My Weekend. Season 3 of "House of Cards" is up on Netflix now:

Deadline: ESPN suspends Keith Olbermann for engaging in an "inappropriate" "Twitter War" with some Penn State students. ...

... CW: Hard to believe something like this hasn't happened sooner.

Buzz Aldrin during a spacewalk, November 1966. Last year Aldrin described the photo as the "BEST SELFIE EVER." CW: I'd say he's right.

New York Times: "Hundreds of photographs from the early years of the space age are for sale. That includes the first image taken from space — from an altitude of 65 miles by a camera on a V-2 rocket launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on Oct. 24, 1946. (The boundary to outer space is generally placed at 100 kilometers, or 62.1 miles.) The prints are vintage — dating from that era, not modern reproductions — and come from the collection of a single European collector, said Sarah Wheeler, head of photographs at Bloomsbury Auctions in London."

** Charles Pierce comments on wingers' Twitter reactions to the Oscars.

Actor Patricia Arquette accepts her Academy Award & calls for women's wage equality:

... Which sparked outrage on the right. And dismay on the left.

#OscarsSoWhite. Soraya McDonald of the Washington Post: "Sunday was a study in contradictions; there was overwhelming emphasis on the visibility of black people in Hollywood, yet their peers hadn’t deemed their work fit for nomination in any of the major individual categories."

Common & John Legend accept the award for the song "Glory" from the film "Selma":

The Los Angeles Times' Academy Awards page is here. The main story is here. The list of winners is here.

Los Angeles Times: "A Palm Springs home built using Joseph Eichler’s original blueprints is under contract to sell for $1.29 million. The newly built Modernist design, considered the first true Eichler home developed in 40 years, came to market on Tuesday. According to real estate brokers and developers Troy Kudlac and Ross Stout of KUD Properties Inc., which handled the listing side, it sold that day for the asking price." With slideshow.

If you just can't get enough of the Academy Awards, the L. A. Times has a guide to Oscar-related TV shows. If you want to watch the Oscars online, here's where & how.

D. R. Tucker in the Washington Monthly: "... give [Jon] Stewart his props for the positive things he has done over the years. He has inspired a new generation of commentators who will continue to call out political perversity and media mendacity. However, the man was not without his flaws — and the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was a gigantic one. As Olbermann, Maher and Maddow have long argued, sanity has to defeat fear, not figure out some way to get along with it."

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Friday
Oct192012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 20, 2012

Presidential Race

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

Nate Silver: President Obama continues "to hold leads in most polls of critical states. Of the 13 polls of swing states released on Thursday, Mr. Obama held leads in 11 of them."

Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "Several battleground states, including Florida, Nevada and Ohio, saw large drops in unemployment over the last 12 months, the government reported Wednesday."

Jeffrey Jones of Gallup: "Americans who report watching the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney believe Obama did a better job, by 51% to 38%. That is a sharp reversal from the first debate for which Romney was widely regarded as the winner.... Three-fourths of Americans (76%) in an Oct. 17-18 Gallup poll say they watched the debate, higher than the 66% who told Gallup in an Oct. 4-5 poll that they watched the first presidential debate on Oct. 3."

"Romnesia!" Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "President Obama fired up nearly 10,000 supporters in Virginia on Friday by debuting a new line of attack on Mitt Romney, accusing him of having 'Romnesia' for changing his positions and trying to move to the political center. In a speech devoted almost entirely to attacking Romney, an energized Obama smiled, joked, waved his finger and portrayed the Republican as a 'throwback to the 1950s' who would restrict women's rights, favor the wealthy and squeeze the middle class." Watch the whole video:

This Is Stunning. Salt Lake City Tribune Editors: "... our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first."

David Ignatius of the Washington Post: "The Romney campaign may have misfired with its suggestion that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attack last month weren't supported by intelligence, according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official. 'Talking points' prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States." CW: Isn't this a timely leak? Let's hope we see Obama II in the 3rd debate & he whacks Romney for his multiple, repeated irresponsible statements about the Libyan attack. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

An Obama campaign ad running in Ohio. Jed Lewison of Daily Kos calls the ad "easily one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, ads of the campaign. And that last question -- 'How can you say something like that?' -- that's not a question that Mitt Romney can answer":

... CW: If you ask me, I think this ad is just as effective, albeit for a different demographic. "I'd be delighted" to see this ad run in every swing state & a few that might be swingable. I don't think women know this:

Gail Collins: "When it comes to gun control, both presidential candidates are strongly in favor of quality education."

Romney is outdoing himself. Steve Benen chronicles forty-nine lies in this week's installment of "Mitt's Mendacity." ...

... Free, Free at Last. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: Mitt Romney is no longer "being careful, and weighing himself down on debate stages with painstakingly parsed positions (this was frequently the situation in the primaries...). Now there's no more future to worry about and he's ... being what he basically is at heart, which is a salesman and bullshit artist of the highest order. Romney's realized that numbers don't matter, and past facts don't even matter that much: he's run all fall on completely made-up, mathematically-incoherent jobs and tax plans, and not only is he not suffering, he's made it all the way to a statistical tie with the president...."

** Charles Pierce: "There are people who have made careers and a very comfortable living by telling the rest of us how we can't expect 'government' to do everything for us, and by railing against the "nanny state." But who's out there now, spouting off about all he'll make the government do for us if we just put him and his zombie-eyed, granny-starving running buddy in charge of it? Who's talking about Five Point Plans and North American Energy Independence and all the things he'll do for us?"

"Bailout Bonanza." Greg Palast of The Nation: Mitt "Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the [auto] bailout -- and a few of Romney's most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys', were astronomical -- more than 3,000 percent on their investment.... Mitt Romney may indeed have wanted to let Detroit die. But if the auto industry was going to be bailed out after all, the Romneys apparently couldn't resist getting in on a piece of 
the action." CW: Read the whole story -- especially the part about how billionaire investors screwed the Delphi workers -- then got some of them to complain in TV ads that Obama was responsible.

Investor Peter Joseph, in a New York Times "Campaign Stops" blogpost: "... voters need to consider whether the time [Mitt Romney] spent in single-minded pursuit of profit ... has prepared him to tackle the complex problems facing America, which can't be reduced to a financial model. Romney's financial success ... came by following the mantra of increasing cash flow, cutting jobs and minimizing taxable income.... The real issue is how Romney's experience relates to a president's need to balance budgetary responsibility with the heavy lifting required to address our collective concerns, our common obligations.... I can assure you that compassion and broader social concerns rarely make it into an investment memo."

Rick Hertzberg & John Cassidy talk with Dorothy Wickenden about the presidential town-hall debate:

Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg News, with a little help from Jonathan Chait of New York magazine, prognosticates on what a Romney presidency would look like. CW: it depresses the hell out of me. ...

... Wilkinson didn't even mention the Romney-Ryan International Misogyny Program. New York Times Editors: "Romney & Ryan "would support the recriminalization of abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and they would limit access to contraception and other services. But they have also promised to promote policies abroad that would affect millions of women in the world's poorest countries, where lack of access to contraception, prenatal care and competent help at childbirth often results in serious illness and thousands of deaths yearly."

Jamil Smith, writing in The New Republic, on a new form of voter suppression: billboards -- up in poor Cleveland neighborhoods -- announcing that "Voter Fraud Is a Felony! 3-1/2 Years & $10,000 Fine." You might not give such a billboard a second thought, but many people who live in neighborhoods where the police & the courts are their enemies would likely take a different view. ...

     ... What Smith doesn't mention is that Clear Channel Communications -- the company that owns the billboards themselves -- is owned by Bain Capital. What a coincidence! Color of Change, has an online petition campaign to force Clear Channel to take down the billboards. Rashad Robinson, who heads Color of Change, told The Huff Post, "For us, these billboards, they create a culture of fear. They've only been put up in black and brown neighborhoods, so these are not widespread billboards. They are targeting certain communities, and they're creating a fear for people going to the polls."

Bush III. Tim Dickinson's piece in Rolling Stone -- "19 Ways Mitt Romney Is Just Like George W. Bush" -- is mostly superficial, but the superficial parallels are still notable & form a cautionary tale.

Congressional Races

Dana Milbank: "If not for a series of tea party upsets in Republican primaries, the Republicans would be taking over the Senate majority in January."

CW: Contributor Julie complained about Scott Brown's latest misleading attack ad against Elizabeth Warren, but it's worse than it appears. Per the Huffington Post: "Scott Brown recently got in hot water for falsely claiming that ... Elizabeth Warren was using paid actors in her commercials. Brown ... should have known more about the people appearing in his ads." A Brown television ad "featured a union construction worker whose publicly accessible Facebook page is riddled with insults against ... Warren and President Barack Obama. On one post made in August, well before Brown's ad appeared, the worker, George Patriarca, calls Warren a 'DOUCHEBAG.' On another he labels the president a 'faggot,' and on a third he says, 'there is a Muslim in the White House.' ... Patriarca's ... union, the Sprinkler Fitters and Apprentices Local Union 550..., supports Warren." ...

... CW: I missed this from earlier in the week, but it's worth passing along. Kevin Robillard of Politico: "Sen. Scott Brown apologized Wednesday after suggesting people in an ad defending Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren's work on an asbestos case were paid actors -- in fact, all five were the relatives of asbestos victims. 'A lot of them are paid,' Brown had told reporters, according to the Taunton Daily Gazette. '... Listen, you can get surrogates and go out and say your thing. We have regular people in our commercials. No one is paid. They are regular folks that reach out to us and say she is full of it.'" Yeah, regular folks like George Patriarca. Brown's assertion was disgraceful. Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe has more.

News Ledes

New York Times: "The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran." CW: get ready for the wingers to claim Ahmadinejad is a key Obama supporter.

Washington Post: "The U.S. government is intensifying its intelligence sharing and military consultations with Turkey behind the scenes as both countries confront the possibility that Syria's civil conflict could escalate into a regional war, according to U.S. and NATO officials." ...

New York Times: "The government of Syria, trying to contain a rapidly expanding insurgency, has resorted to one of the dirty tricks of the modern battlefield: salting ammunition supplies of antigovernment fighters with ordnance that explodes inside rebels' weapons, often wounding and sometimes killing the fighters while destroying many of their hard-found arms."

Washington Post: "When local elections opened on Saturday, Palestinians across the West Bank began to exercise their right to vote for the first time in six years. Here in this city, the poll carried even more significance: A long 37 years have passed since residents last cast ballots for their municipal council." ...

... AP: "Israeli army radio is reporting that naval vessels have made contact with a pro-Palestinian boat sailing to Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade. The radio reported Saturday that Israeli forces ordered the Swedish owned, Finnish-flagged Estelle to halt its course."

Thursday
Oct182012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 19, 2012

Presidential Race

Mike Isikoff of NBC News: "A campaign worker linked to a controversial Republican consulting firm, [Strategic Allied Consulting,] has been arrested in Virginia and charged with throwing voter registration forms into a dumpster. The suspect, Colin Small, 31, was described by a local law enforcement official as a "supervisor" in a Republican Party financed operation to register voters in Rockingham County in rural Virginia, a key swing state in the Nov. 6 election." Thanks to Akhilleus for the link.

Nate Silver: "The Gallup national tracking poll now shows a very strong lead for Mitt Romney. However, its results are deeply inconsistent with the results that other polling firms are showing in the presidential race, and the Gallup poll has a history of performing very poorly when that is the case."

Stanching the Voter Drain? Mark Murray of NBC News: "... new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls show President Barack Obama maintaining his lead over ... Mitt Romney in the battleground states of Iowa and Wisconsin. According to the polls -- which were conducted from Monday through Wednesday, encompassing Tuesday's presidential debate in New York and after -- Obama receives the support of 51 percent of likely voters in Iowa to Romney's 43 percent.... And in Wisconsin, Obama is ahead by six points among likely voters, 51 percent to 45 percent...."

David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama paid a call on 'The Daily Show' on Thursday.... [Jon] Stewart made Obama laugh several times, but he also pressed Obama on why his administration appeared 'confused' in its response to the terror attacks on American diplomatic personnel in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11." Update: here's the video, Parts 1 & 2:

... CW: what does Matt Drudge glean from the Stewart interview? Here's the headline: "WHEN FOUR AMERICANS GET KILLED, IT'S NOT OPTIMAL.” No link. I read this someplace else. I'm not going to Drudge. 

Sharon Otterman of the New York Times: President Obama & Mitt Romney will both speak at the Al Smith Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City this evening. CW: And wouldn't you know it: "Angry e-mails from conservative Christian organizations flooded Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan's in-box in August, after he announced that he had invited President Obama, along with Mitt Romney, to speak at the New York Archdiocese's biggest charity gala of the year, despite the church's differences with the president over contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage." ...

... Update: President Obama was terrific:

... Mitt Romney was pretty funny:

     ... Here's the New York Times story, by Richard Oppel, of the event.

Helene Cooper of the New York Times: Bruce "Springsteen joined former President Bill Clinton on stage for [a campaign] event [in Parma, Ohio], as part of the Obama campaign's full-throated effort to scrounge up every single vote it can in Ohio." CW: Here's one of those entertaining guys:

... AND the other one:

... PLUS this guy says that he has cleaned up the mess. President Obama in New Hampshire Thursday:

Mike Allen of Politico: "From an Obama campaign aide: Wed., the day after the town-hall debate, 'was the biggest campaign fundraising day for the Obama campaign in history, including 2008.'" (CW: this is an item, not a story; there's no more to it. I'm not linking it because Allen only provides a generic link that will only hold till he makes an update.)

Tom Miles & Rachelle Younglai of Reuters: "The World Trade Organization barred China on Thursday from imposing duties on certain U.S. steel exports, siding with U.S. President Barack Obama in a dispute with Beijing over a type of steel made in two election battleground states. The case involved duties imposed by China on 'grain-oriented electrical steel,' which is used in the cores of high-efficiency transformers, electric motors and generators. The steel is made ... [in Ohio & Pennsylvania]. Although the specialty steel case is tiny compared with other trade disputes with Beijing, the WTO ruling gave Obama a timely win as he defends himself against accusations by his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, that he is soft on China."

Mike Elk of In These Times: "In a June 6, 2012 conference call posted on the anti-union National Federation of Independent Business's website..., Mitt Romney instructed employers to tell their employees how to vote in the upcoming election.... After making a lengthy case that President Obama's first term has been bad for business, Romney said:

I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections. And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope, I hope you pass those along to your employees.

      "... Romney went on to reassure his audience that it is perfectly legal for them to talk to their employees about how to vote:

Nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business, because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well.

     "... He's correct that such speech is now legal for the first time ever, thanks to the Citizen United ruling, which overturned previous Federal Election Commission laws that prohibited employers from political campaigning among employees." Thanks to a friend for the heads-up. Here's the audio:

Greg Sargent: "As the presidential race hits the final stretch, you'll be seeing more and more under the radar communications -- unannounced or highly targeted ads, robocalls, mailers -- that will grow increasingly dishonest as Election Day approaches. Case in point: A new radio ad that the Rove-founded Crossroads GPS is running in Colorado that is almost comically misleading about the latest unemployment statistics and the trajectory of unemployment on Obama's watch."

** "Snow Job on Jobs." Paul Krugman: "... the true Romney [jobs] plan is to create an economic boom through the sheer power of Mr. Romney's personal awesomeness. But the campaign doesn't dare say that, for fear that voters would (rightly) consider it ridiculous. So what we're getting instead is an attempt to brazen it out with nakedly false claims. There's no jobs plan; just a plan for a snow job on the American people." CW: a masterful piece of writing. ...

     ... Greg Sargent sez, "this 12 million jobs plan is the main rationale for Romney's whole case for the presidency. Why isn't the fact that it has been revealed to be a sham a bigger media story?"

** Tim Egan: "The great mystery of the first presidential debate was what happened to the Barack Obama a slim majority of the country was poised to rehire for another four years.... But there was another missing man in the Mile High City that night, and on Tuesday, he reappeared -- the petulant, unlikable and bullying corporate persona that is Mitt Romney's default mode. With his feigned slights, his constant squabbling over the rules, and his arrogance that he alone has a trust-me-it'll-work business plan to right the country, Romney was the very picture of a C.E.O. used to getting his way."

AND now it's time to check in with octogenarians Margaret & Helen to see what they think of the Romney family & Mitt's serial lying to women & all. Thanks to Bonnie for the link.

Jason Cherkis of the Huffington Post: "In the wake of Rep. Paul Ryan's embarrassing soup kitchen photo-op last week, the organization that runs the facility tells The Huffington Post that donors have begun pulling their money out of the Youngstown, Ohio charity." After the local director of the St. Vincent de Paul charity told the Washington Post that the Ryan people had "'ramrodded their way in,' ... Ryan supporters have ... targeted [him] and his soup kitchen." CW: So backers of Mr. Slash-the-Social-Safety-Hammock, in a pretense of compassion, are withholding funds from a typical, privately-funded, church-affiliated charitable organization -- the kind these yahoos say they love. Thanks to Haley S. for the link.

Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party-aligned group part-funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, is building a state-of-the-art digital ground operation in Ohio and other vital battleground states to spread its anti-Obama message to voters.... The group hopes that by creating a local army of activists equipped with sophisticated online micro-targeting tools it will increase its impact on moderate voters, nudging them towards a staunchly conservative position opposed to President Obama's economic and healthcare policies. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is spending tens of millions of dollars developing its local strategy, already employing more than 200 permanent staff in 32 states."

Congressional Races

"Doctor" Joe Walsh says abortion never saves the life of the mother, cements his earlier-won Misogynist of the Year prize. Rick Pearson & Duaa Eldeib of the Chicago Tribune: during a debate between Joe Walsh (RTP-Ill.) & Tammy Duckworth (D), who is challenging Walsh for his Congressional seat, Walsh said he opposed abortion "without exception." "Asked by reporters after the debate if he was saying that it's never medically necessary to conduct an abortion to save the life of a mother, Walsh responded, 'Absolutely. With modern technology and science, you can't find one instance.... There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing.'"

AP: "Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill cast herself as a moderate willing to work with Republicans while GOP challenger Todd Akin repeatedly linked her to the policies of President Barack Obama as they highlighted their differences Thursday night in the final debate of the Missouri Senate race."

Daniela Altimari of the Hartford Courant: Rep. Daniel Chris Murphy (D) & Linda McMahon (R) of Connecticut held their final debate Thursday afternoon. "A University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant poll released Thursday showed Murphy with a six point lead." CW: this is good news. The multimillionaire fake wrestling empress McMahon has led Murphy for much of the campaign season.

Other Stuff

CW: A number of contributors have been complaining about undecided & low-information voters. Marvin S. went out and found a truly low-information lady. Marvin has a suspicion of which way this woman will vote. The scary part to me is that the woman sounds like an adult, & she is relatively articulate. If you happened into a conversation with her -- as long as you kept to innocuous topics like the weather -- you might never guess what a dunderhead she was. Although -- come to think of it -- when she started complaining that the new local weatherman was constantly bringing on blizzards & droughts & such, you'd get a clue. This audio, BTW, has had nearly 2.5 million listeners:

Ah, Free Speech. AP: "An 80-year-old Connecticut woman has been charged with larceny and breach of peace after tearing down political signs that included an image of President Barack Obama with an Adolph Hitler-style mustache. Nancy Lack tells WVIT-TV she was offended by the picture and took down three posters that were being hung last Thursday near the post office on Main Street in Hebron, Conn. Workers for frequent presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, who were putting up the signs, called police. Lack says she knew she would get in trouble. But she says she lived through World War II and was angry that someone would portray the president as a Nazi."

Ah, Schadenfreude. AP: "The conservative scholar behind a high-grossing film that condemns President Barack Obama has resigned as head of an evangelical college. The King's College in New York announced Dinesh D'Souza's resignation Thursday. Its board had been meeting about the school president and his relationship with a woman who is not his wife." ...

... Ariel Kaminer of the New York Times has more.

News Ledes

New York Times: "A large bomb exploded in the heart of Beirut's Christian section on Friday, killing a top Lebanese security official and at least seven others, wounding dozens and spreading anxiety and dread in a city where memories of sectarian violence from Lebanon's long civil war have been resurrected by the conflict in neighboring Syria."

New York Times: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan, has recovered to the extent that she is now able to stand with assistance and communicate in writing, medical officials at the British hospital where she is being treated said on Friday."

Washington Post: "The CIA is urging the White House to approve a significant expansion of the agency's fleet of armed drones, a move that would extend the spy service's decade-long transformation into a paramilitary force.... The proposal by CIA Director David H. Petraeus would bolster the agency's ability to sustain its campaigns of lethal strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and enable it, if directed, to shift aircraft to emerging al-Qaeda threats in North Africa or other trouble spots...."

AP: "The CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington within 24 hours of last month's deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about an American-made video ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, U.S. officials have told The Associated Press."

New York Times: "European Union leaders said early Friday that legislation enabling rescue aid to be channeled directly to Spanish banks should be agreed by the end of the year, but they left open critical decisions on how soon it could go into effect." The Guardian has a liveblog on this as negotiations are continuing.

Washington Post: "BP said Thursday that an oil sheen detected in the Gulf of Mexico last month probably came from crude trapped in the giant coffer dam that the company used in a futile attempt to capture the oil that was spilling from a BP well in 2010."

Thursday
Oct182012

Binders Full of Women II

Pardon my sophomoric glee. I, I mean Willard from Massachusetts could not be more pleased. Screenshot from Amazon.com, TOPS Cardinal XtraValue D-Ring Binder, 3 Inch, Black, (XV632):

Update: I see Rosa Golijan of NBC Digital News picked up on my Willard from Massachusetts' review of the D-ring binder. ...

... So did the International Business Times.

Wednesday
Oct172012

The Commentariat -- Oct. 18, 2012

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "President Obama's chances of winning the Electoral College were 64.8 percent as of Tuesday's FiveThirtyEight forecast, down slightly from 66.0 percent on Monday.... Tuesday featured an interesting set of surveys, however. While Mr. Obama's numbers were middling on the whole, one set of them implied that the polls may be inclined to overstate the effect of events like the party conventions and the debates."

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney has taken a six-point lead over President Obama in the latest Gallup national tracking poll -- his biggest lead to date and the first time he has led outside the margin of error. The latest seven-day tracking poll of likely voters shows Romney at 51 percent and Obama at 45 percent, up from 50-46 on Tuesday and 49-47 on Monday." ...

... Markos Moulitsas: "Romney's entire advantage in this poll comes from a massive lead in the South. Now sure, some of that may be Florida, but the state-level polling certainly doesn't show that. So Romney is driving up big margins in Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi and other such presidentially irrelevant states? Good for him! I'm sure that'll be cold comfort as he loses the states that actually matter in the Midwest and West." Thanks to Dave S. for the link.

Nielsen: "An estimated 65.6 million people tuned in to watch the second debate between incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday, October 16."

Steve Benen: "For voters who are still paying attention and who consider the economy an important election issue, the Romney/Ryan argument that the economy's getting worse is now literally unbelievable.... With every new report showing better and better economic news, the president will be missing a major opportunity if he fails to take advantage of the news: after inheriting the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the president took the lead in saving the nation. Nearly four years after taking office, by literally every relevant metric, the nation's economy is stronger and more secure than it was when he started." ...

... Joe Weisenthal of Business Insider: "This is really the big story of the moment.... New housing starts are shooting straight up. Retail sales growth: re-accelerating. The Unemployment Rate: Collapsing. And car sales are surging. Revolving consumer credit: back to growth. Gallup Economic Confidence is the best since May. Consumer discretionary stocks surging towards all-time highs. Homebuilder stocks highest since 2007. Wal-Mart has finally busted out, and surged past its 2000 high." With charts to prove it all. Via Greg Sargent.

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "President Obama and Mitt Romney took to the road on Wednesday to capitalize on their fiery second debate, with Mr. Obama's muscular performance recharging supporters in the state that propelled him to the presidency in 2008." ...

... Landler again: "For all the relief among President Obama's aides over his energetic performance during the presidential debate on Tuesday night, there was less exuberance. After his listless showing in the first debate, Mr. Obama's aides believe the second debate essentially reset the race to where they long expected it to be: the president holding a narrow lead in enough battleground states that they hope he will eke out victory over Mitt Romney."

Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "The battle for women's votes helped shape Tuesday night's debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, pushing issues such as equal pay for women and access to contraception to the forefront of the closely fought race."

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "As the debate on Tuesday made clear, neither campaign is taking the support of women for granted. Mr. Obama, in particular, seemed eager to make the case for his policies -- and to criticize Mr. Romney's -- after having been criticized by many high-profile women for not doing so in the debate two weeks ago in Denver."

Tom Toles of the Washington Post.Kevin Robillard of Politico: "Mitt Romney’s eldest son [Tagg] joked in a radio interview that he wanted to 'take a swing' at President Barack Obama after Obama called his father a liar. 'Jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the stage and take a swing at him,' Tagg said, laughing. 'But you know you can't do that because, well, first because there's a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because that's the nature of the process.'" ...

     ... CW: oh, wait, I thought of another reason: Barack Obama is POTUS. You can't "respect the office" if you "take a swing at" the man. Or even say you'd like to take a swing at the man. Let's be clear here. Tagg Romney is not a child. He is 42 years old -- old enough to be POTUS, as a matter of fact. He is not Billy Carter. He is a Harvard MBA (I can't tell you how Dubya, Willard & Tagg have lowered the prestige of a Harvard MBA), a businessman. He has worked on three of his father's campaign & is an official campaign advisor. Now ask yourself if there would be an uproar on the right if David Plouffe (roughly Tagg's age) went on the radio & made a public statement that the only thing keeping him from decking Romney was his Secret Service detail. P.S. Obama did not use the word "liar," even though it would have been appropriate to do so. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link. ...

... AND, speaking of that photogenic Romney clan, here's son Josh at Wednesday's debate. A friend heartily recommends that you turn to Rebecca Schoenkopf of Wonkette to learn more about Josh:

(Thanks to Tastefully Offensive for the pic & caption.)

I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years. -- Mitt Romney, during the town-hall debate

Liar, liar, liar, liar. (Or something like that.) -- Dana Milbank

New York Times Editors: "On Tuesday night, [Mitt Romney] bumbled his way through a cringe-inducing attempt to graft what he thinks should be 2012 talking points onto his 1952 sensibility.... [Romney said] 'Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.' Perhaps Mr. Romney forgot that he vetoed a bill as Massachusetts governor in 2005 that would have given women who were raped access to emergency contraception, or that he supported an amendment this year that would have allowed any business to opt out of the contraceptive mandate, or that he has said he would support a state constitutional amendment that would declare that life begins at conception -- potentially making some kinds of contraceptives illegal." ...

... Digby: "Romney made a great case for affirmative action, something his party adamantly opposes. But it's so common sense that he could say it in the debate and nobody even noticed. Not even Fox."

... Dancing the Shuffle with Lilly Ledbetter. Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: "Had Mitt Romney been president in 2009, he would not have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, [Ed Gillespie,] a top adviser to the Republican nominee, told The Huffington Post Tuesday night. Now that the law has been passed, Romney has no plans to get rid of it..., Gillespie added. But Romney didn't support it while it made its way through Congress.... Hours after this story was published, the Romney campaign sent a statement from Gillespie walking back the comments he had made the night before. 'I was wrong when I said last night Governor Romney opposed the Lily Ledbetter act,' the statement read. 'He never weighed in on it. As President, he would not seek to repeal it.'"

E. J. Dionne: "Under pressure this time..., [Mitt Romney] displayed his least attractive sides. He engaged in pointless on-stage litigation of the debate rules. He repeatedly demonstrated his disrespect for both the president and Candy Crowley, the moderator. And Romney was just plain querulous when anyone dared question him about the gaping holes in his tax and budget plans.... The most instructive contrast between Debate I and Debate II was the extent to which Romney's ideas crumbled at the slightest contact with challenge. Romney and Paul Ryan are erecting a Potemkin village designed to survive only until the polls close on Nov. 6."

Jon Stewart has three good segments on the debate, all of which you can view here. (He also interviews Nate Silver.) This is my favorite of the three; it reminds me of the Washington Post story of young Mittster's leading a severely nearsighted high school teacher into a closed door -- because he thought that was really funny. Sometimes, o lord, there is poetic justice, even if ye taketh decades to exact it:

     ... Stephen Colbert is truly excellent, too.

Dana Milbank: "Key to the success of Romney's Etch a Sketch movement has been the cooperation of conservatives, who have been unusually docile in the face of the candidate's heresies: pledging not to enact a tax cut that adds to the deficit, promising not to decrease the share of taxes paid by the wealthy, vowing not to slash education funding, praising financial regulations, insisting that he would make health insurers cover preexisting conditions and disavowing his earlier claim that 47 percent of Americans are parasites living off of the government.... It has been a rare outbreak of common sense in the conservative movement. Romney should enjoy it while it lasts."

"Binders, Keepers." David Brooks & Gail Collins have a conversation about the conversation Tuesday night. Collins ends it with, "Anybody who's wondering whether a second term could be better than the first can look at Obama's performance in the second debate and take heart." ...

... Collins again: "When it comes to the ever-evolving identity of Mitt Romney, we tend to think of Massachusetts Mitt as the progressive, empathetic version. But there were actually several different Bay State incarnations. The one who got elected governor wanted to ban assault rifles, close down polluting power plants and had emotional memories of a relative who died from an illegal abortion. About halfway through the term, that guy began to evaporate. He was replaced by a Presidential Prospect Mitt who opposed stem cell research, refused to cooperate with other governors on clean air initiatives and lost interest in the binder."

"Why Romney Screwed up the Libya Question." Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "The facts surrounding the Benghazi attack are damning enough on their own. But thanks to their penchant for cherry-picking information, the GOP left their presidential nominee on stage with his mouth agape, struggling to understand how something he knew for a fact wasn't a fact at all." ...

... Candy Crowley defends her remarks re: Libya/"acts of terror":

... Scott Shane of the New York Times provides a time line on who said what when about the terror attack in Benghazi.

Nicholas Kristof's college roommate Scott Androes was uninsured and died of treatable illness. "Let's pray that this presidential election will be a milestone in bringing to an end this squandering of American lives, including [Scott's] your own."

** Tim Noah of The New Republic writes an absolutely fascinating history of the term "trickle-down government," a term Romney has employed in both presidential debates.

Jason Zengerle interviews David Axelrod for GQ -- with annotations.

AND Jim Naureckas of FAIR is totally energized by Tom Friedman's helpful column on the debate. Naureckas's colum is titled "Judging Candidates on Their Resemblance to Thomas Friedman. ...

... PLUS Dean Baker likes to play "The How Many Wrong Statements Can You Find In Thomas Friedman's Column Game."

Local News

John Wagner, et al., of the Washington Post: "Maryland voters are leaning toward legalizing same-sex marriage next month, something that has never happened at the ballot box anywhere in the nation, a new Washington Post poll finds."

Other Stuff

Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post: "President Obama is prepared to veto legislation to block year-end tax hikes and spending cuts, collectively known as the 'fiscal cliff,' unless Republicans bow to his demand to raise tax rates for the wealthy, administration officials said. Freed from the political and economic constraints that have tied his hands in the past, Obama is ready to play hardball with Republicans, who have so far successfully resisted a deal to tame the debt that includes higher taxes, Obama's allies say."

Linda Greenhouse: in an affirmative action case, the conservatives on the Supreme Court embarrass themselves by asking trivial, taunting, stupid questions.

Jim Fallows takes photos inside the FoxConn campus in Southern China.

CW: Matt Harding is my hero. Thanks to contributor Dan for the link:

News Ledes

New York Times: "The Bangladeshi man who was arrested Wednesday on charges that he plotted to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York had an accomplice [named Howard Willie Carter II] in San Diego, who was arrested later on unrelated child-pornography charges, a law enforcement official said on Thursday."

Reuters: "Google's ... quarterly results were released by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission hours ahead of schedule. Earnings were far less than analysts expected and Google shares immediately plunged as much as 10.5 percent, knocking $26 billion off its market capitalization...."

Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald: "Libyan authorities have named Ahmed Abu Khattala, a leader of the Benghazi-based Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, as a commander in the attack that killed the US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens last month." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Witnesses and the authorities have called Ahmed Abu Khattala one of the ringleaders of the Sept. 11 attack on the American diplomatic mission here. But just days after President Obama reasserted his vow to bring those responsible to justice, Mr. Abu Khattala spent two leisurely hours on Thursday evening at a crowded luxury hotel.... No authority has even questioned him about the attack, he said, and he has no plans to go into hiding...."

AP: "Weekly applications for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped 46,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the highest in four months. The increase represents a rebound from the previous week's sharp drop. Both swings were largely due to technical factors."

AP: "One of the two Taliban militants suspected of attacking a teenage girl activist was detained by the Pakistani military in 2009 but subsequently released, intelligence officials said Thursday. Malala Yousufzai, 14, was shot and critically wounded on Oct. 9 as she headed home from school in the northwest Swat Valley. The Taliban said they targeted Malala, a fierce advocate for girls' education, because she promoted 'Western thinking' and was critical of the militant group."

AP: "Confidential files kept by the Boy Scouts of America on men they suspected of child sex abuse are set to be released after a two-year-long court battle. The anticipated release of the files on Thursday by Portland attorney Kelly Clark will reveal 20,000 pages of documents the Scouts kept on men inside -- and in some cases outside -- the organization believed to have committed acts of abuse." ...

     ... Update: "An array of local authorities -- police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors and town Boy Scout leaders among them -- quietly shielded scoutmasters and others who allegedly molested children, according to a newly opened trove of confidential files compiled from 1959 to1985.... As detailed in 14,500 pages of secret 'perversion files' released Thursday by order of the Oregon Supreme Court, their maneuvers protected suspected sexual predators while victims suffered in silence."